DIY ironing board cover
An iron is a useful tool to keep our clothes wrinkle-free, and can be a major boon to most sewing projects.
While there are alternatives, using an iron is easiest when you've got access to an ironing board. Boards need covers: find out how to make your own with this ironing board cover tutorial by The 36th Avenue.
(Image source) [ID: the bottom of an ironing board with a DIY cover attached to it made out of black fabric with white polkadots. Four ends of pieces of elastic stick out of a hole in the fabric.]
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Just wanted to say that I really love that you take the time and go to the extra trouble of adding image descriptions under pictures. Thanks so much for that and all the great tutorials!
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Bias tape 101
Bias tape is a very useful tool when sewing, but leaves a lot of people confused. What's the difference between bias tape and a simple strip of fabric? What can you use it for? Can you make it yourself?
Let's take a look.
(Image source) [ID: three spools of bias tape wound around a piece of white cardboard. The three tapes are made out of a white fabric with orange, blue, and green flowers, a pink fabric with blue and red flowers, and a white fabric with red diagonal stripes.]
What is bias tape:
Bias tape is a strip of fabric that's been cut on the bias of the fabric, then folded so it's easy to work with. You can both buy commercial bias tape or make it yourself.
Bias tape has many uses, including binding necklines and armholes, making drawstrings and straps, used as trims, casings, hemming, binding edges, finishing seams, appliqué,...
What makes bias tape different from just plain old strips of fabric?
There are two types of fabrics, generally speaking: woven and knit. Woven fabrics consist of threads that criss-cross each other, while knit fabrics have threads that loop into each other. Knit fabrics are stretchy, but woven fabrics aren't.
(Image source) [ID: woven versus knit: threads that criss-cross each other versus threads that loop into each other.]
There's one way to get a little stretch into projects using woven fabric: cutting your pattern pieces on the bias of your fabric. This means aligning your pieces in such a way that they follow the diagonal direction of your fabric (a 45° angle), rather than the straight grain.
(Image source) [ID: a diagram with a blue square representing a piece of woven fabric. A diagonal line shows the bias grain. The sides of the square show the width/weft thread, the selvedge edge, and the length/warp thread of the fabric. Text: "sewguide.com".]
Fabric cut on the bias will stretch more than fabric cut on the straight grain. It will also drape better and be less prone to fraying. The downside is you'll need a lot more fabric to make a bias-cut garment than a straight-cut garment.
Bias tape will have all of these advantages over strips of fabric that have been cut on the straight grain of the fabric.
(Image source) [ID: a diagram of a blue rectangle representing a piece of fabric, with its selvage edges and width denoted on the sides. A bodice pattern is laid out three times on the fabric: once on the straight grain, once on the diagonal/bias grain, and once on the crosswise/off grain. Text: "sewguide.com".]
How to make bias tape:
As I've mentioned, you can buy commercial bias tape in most craft stores. These are great if you need quick access to tape, or if you're daunted by the prospect of making it yourself.
Making your own bias tape is useful if you want your tape to match the fabric you're working with, an advantage you'll never have with store-bought bias tape. Bias tape is also a good stash buster: the climate impact of bias tape you've made from leftover fabric scraps is lower than bias tape that was commercially made and shipped to a store, as you're reusing pre-existing material rather than buying something new.
If you only need a little bias tape, the easiest way to make it is to start by drawing a line at a 45° angle on your fabric. Mark adjacent lines running parallel to your original line on your fabric for the width of tape you need.
Cut your fabric on your marked lines, then join the ends together to create longe strips. Don't just sew them together in a straight line, as this will take away some of the bias stretch. Place one end of a strip on top of another at a 90° angle, right sides together. Draw a line between the two points where the strips cross, then sew along that line with a backstitch. Iron your seam, and cut away the excess fabric.
(Image source) [ID: six photo's showing how to make bias tape by cutting diagonal lines out of fabric, then sewing the resulting separate strips together at a 45° angle.]
(Image source) [ID: close-up of a diagonal seam where two strips of bias tape have been joined. The seam has been pressed open and the excess fabric cut away. Text: "Press open seam. www.treasurie.com."]
If you need a lot of bias tape, joining all of your separate pieces is a lot of work. An easier method to accomplish this is the continuous bias tape method. This method is a little too complex for me be able to explain it properly, but both Sew Guide and Treasurie have good tutorials on how to do it.
(Image source) [ID: a photo of a continuous strip of bias tape made from blue fabric with white polkadots, followed by text ("Continous bias tape. www.treasurie.com.", following by an 8 picture diagram showing how to make continuous bias tape by creating a fabric tube and cutting it into strips.]
How to fold bias tape:
You now have a length of bias tape, but how do you use it? Isn't it supposed to be folded?
While there are different techniques to start sewing with the bias tape you've created, you'll have an easier time using it once you've folded it. Three common methods to fold your bias tape are the single bias tape, the single fold bias tape, and the double fold bias tape.
(Image source) [ID: three close-up's on a piece of green bias tape folded in different ways: a double fold bias tape (edges folded inwards, then folded in half), a single fold bias tape (edges folded inwards), and a single bias tape (tape folded in half).]
The easiest way to fold your bias tape is to use a bias tape maker. These little gadgets will fold your tape for you.
(Image source) [ID: a strip of green fabric is pulled through a metal bias tape maker. The unfolded end is fed into one end and comes out with its edges folded inwards at the other end, where it's ironed in place with an iron. Text: "Pull and press. www.treasurie.com."]
If you don't have a bias tape maker, you'll have to fold and iron your tape yourself.
Single bias tape: fold your tape at the centre with its wrong sides facing each other, then iron it. You're done.
Single fold bias tape: fold your tape at the centre with its wrong sides facing each other, then iron it. Open up your tape again, then fold the edges towards the centre crease you've just created, and iron them. You're done.
Double fold bias tape: fold your tape at the centre with its wrong sides facing each other, then iron it. Open up your tape again, then fold the edges towards the centre crease you've just created, and iron them. Now re-fold your tape at the centre and iron it again. You're done.
(Image source) [ID: two pictures of a strip of blue fabric with white polkadots being ironed into bias tape. The first picture shows how the strip is folded in half and pressed. The second picture shows how the ironed strip is opened up again and the edges pressed towards the centre crease of the strip, meeting at the centre.]
You now know what bias tape is and how to make it yourself! Once you've gone through all of the steps above, you'll have a length of tape that's ready to use however you want.
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(this is the closest i could get without making the pic blurry)
so context i was about to start working on this big embroidery project on this shirt and like an idiot i caught the shirt in a nail (don't ask me how idek). it's one of those stretchy form fitting delicate shirts and im afraid to even touch it at this point because i know the hole will be the size of a coin before i even know it. how do i fix it in a way that's not noticeable and i can still stitch in this zone?
[ID: close-up on a small hole in a white knit fabric.]
No need to feel like an idiot. It happens to the best of us. I've managed to get holes in my clothes in the weirdest ways. :)
You've caught the hole early, which is a good thing. The smaller a hole is, the easier it is to fix in a subtle way. Take a look at my post on mending fragile fabrics to get an idea of how to get started.
Going by the picture, you could probably get away by simply sewing the hole shut if you use a matching thread and a small needle. If you were planning to embroider over it anyway, it's okay if it turns out to be a bit more visible than expected.
If it's very fragile, you could try using a tiny bit of interfacing on the inside of the garment to strengthen the fabric around the hole. This will take away some of the stretch, unless you use stretchy interfacing. However, given the size it would probably not matter too much if some stretch was lost.
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Nightgown asker back again! Found out that THIS is the true issue!
The back seam is too narrow for me so hopefully if i let out the seam then it wont be as bad!
[ID: close-up on a back seam in a white linen nightgown with strips of lace criss-crossing part of the fabric at the top, and gathered fabric at the bottom.]
Glad to hear you've figured it out! A tight back panel can indeed pull on the armpit area of a garment.
It looks like you've got a fair amount of gathered fabric, which I'm guessing is the skirt part, and the back seam part of the top? If letting out the seam turns out to be insufficient, unpicking some of the gathered skirt and adding insertion lace to the top might also work.
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hi! this blog's amazing, and i've already bookmarked a bunch of tutorials i'm gonna use in the near future. do you have any advice on mending or replacing the collar of a tshirt that's gone all stretched out and wrinkly?
Thanks! Always happy to hear this blog is useful to people. :)
I wrote a post on fixing up stretched-out t-shirt collars a while ago.
My recent post on shirt collars has some additional ideas on how to rework a t-shirt collar.
Feel free to let me know if you've still got questions after reading these.
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Easy knitted sweater
It's sweater weather! Or it is where I live, at least.
Sweaters can look really intimidating to new knitters, but they don't have to be. There's one type of sweater you can knit with just rectangles (and very little shaping): the boxy boatneck sweater.
All you need to know to knit this sweater is how to:
Stockinette (or your preferred stitch - as long as you've got the same gauge, you're good)
Increase or decrease stitches (depending on whether you start at the bottom or the top for your sleeves - or you could forgo the shaping and go for an oversized sleeve)
Sew knitting together
I've got three free patterns here for just such a sweater:
The Basic Sweater with a Boatneck Collar (by Elaine Phillips / ABC Knitting Patterns): this pattern contains written instructions for a form-fitting boatneck sweater.
The Over Sweater (by Pierrot): this pattern contains visual instructions for an oversized boxy sweater.
Long Turtleneck Sweater (by Pierrot): this pattern contains visual instructions for a long boxy sweater with a turtleneck. If you leave out the turtleneck, you'll end up with a boatneck again.
(Image source) [ID: photo of the finished basic sweater with a boatneck collar by Elaine Phillips: a boxy form-fitting sweater in brown and beige yarn and with a ribbed edge at the neck. Text: "abc-knitting-patterns.com".]
(Image source) [ID: knitting diagram for the Pierrot Over Sweater: visual instructions on how to make a boxy sweater with long sleeves and a boatneck collar.]
Not sure where to start? My knitting tag might be useful to you.
Need a different size? Check out this guide on resizing knitting patterns by The Spruce Crafts.
New to Western knitting patterns? This guide on how to read a knitting pattern by the Craft Yarn Council will help you out.
New to Japanese knitting patterns, like Pierrot? This guide on reading Japanese knitting patterns by Twig & Horn shows how to read their shaping instructions.
Want to make these sweaters in a zero waste way? Check out my crafting on the cheap post to see how to get second-hand supplies (yes, even the yarn!), and learn how to knit with chopsticks as instructed by Tumblr-user Millenniumbreak.
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Your blog motivated me to finally repair this torn pair of jeans! Not bad for my first try at embroidery :D
It also made me realize, i think there's something missing about ow to secure stuff after? Because this is right at the knee and thus will get a lot of friction. I'm solving this by putting an iron on patch over it from the inside, but is there other solutions?
[ID: close-up of a mended tear in gray fabric. Black fabric with tiny white polkadots shows through the tear. Yellow, orange, and red plants are embroidered around the tear, as if they're growing from the mend.]
That's your first try at embroidery?! It looks amazing!
Properly securing your ends and taking good care of your embroidered pieces will help a lot in making your work last.
An iron-on patch on the wrong side of your work (inside your clothes) is a good idea if you're worried about your stitches coming loose. Take a look at this post on embroidery backings by Cutesy Crafts for other materials you could try out.
If you're making decorative embroidery hoops rather than embroidering clothes, you could also try backing your work with felt.
Unfortunately, embroidery is rather fragile. Once a piece is embroidered, you'll have to be careful to avoid excess friction at the embroidered spot.
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Hi i was wondering if ypu had any advice for widening an armhole on a nightgown? I have a goregous linen nightgown with lace that fits be perfectly everywhere but the armholes. Basically unless i have perfect posture it begins to dig into un underside of my arm and tightens across my back
I desperately want to use it more but i toss and turn as i sleep and am worried ill ruin it
A linen nightgown sounds really nice, especially for summer. However, a nightgown that's uncomfortable to sleep in kind of defeats its own purpose.
I have a few posts on altering arm holes and sleeves that might be of interest to you:
How to upsize clothes
Upsizing arm holes
If you don't need a lot of extra space, check how much seam allowance your gown has. Letting out the seams might be sufficient. Check out my post on letting out pants to see how it's done. It's a different garment, but the technique's the same.
You could also try using insertion lace. This might look odd at the bottom of your armpit, but could make for a cute detail at the top of your shoulder.
If you end up having to add in extra fabric, try looking for a scrap of fabric that's made of linen, too. Linen is very breathable, and inserting something like e.g. polyester in the armpit region would render it less effective in that regard.
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Your tumblr is so wonderful! A great source of knowledge and inspiration.
What's your opinion on speedweves vs Sashiko? I love the beautiful speedweve patches but am always a bit doubtful because they are anchored only on the sides (putting stress on a single row of the mended clothing) and not in the center of the darning.
Speedweves versus sashiko
Aw, thank you!
I've never used a speedweve before, so I can't give an informed opinion on them.
I'm curious to hear what other people think of them, though.
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Do you have any tips for enlarging collars on tshirts? Or turning round neck collars into v-necks? I have plenty of shirts I could still be wearing except thanks to some weight gain I find them all a bit too tight around the chest and neck...
It's important our clothes fit comfortably, so good on you for wanting to alter your shirts.
Enlarging collars on t-shirts:
Changing the shape of your collar can indeed gain you some space.
Instructables has a good tutorial on how to turn a crew neck into a v-neck shirt. If you're more of a visual learner, take a look at this video tutorial by Professor Pincushion.
(Image source) [ID: a before and after picture of a black t-shirt with a crew neck which has been turned into a v-neck. The shirt has a print of a yellow robot on the front.]
Boat neck and round collars:
You could also try a boat neck rather than a v-neck if you prefer round collars, like this boat neck tutorial by Simply Silver shows.
Similarly, simply removing the ribbed neckline most shirts have and using a folded hem might also work, like this tutorial on how to widen a shirt neckline by Make It Or Fix It.
(Image source) [ID: close-up of a black shirt with an altered round neckline. Text: "How to Widen T-Shirt Neckline. Sewsewneat.com"]
Another option is to bind your widened neckline, like this bound neckline tutorial by Drops of Lluvia.
Finally, adding in a button placket which you can leave open while wearing your shirt might also help. Check out this button placket tutorial by Stephanie Rubletz to see how it's done.
There are multiple ways to enlarge a neckline. If you're not sure which one to choose, open your wardrobe and take note of what types of collars your favourite shirts have.
If you'd also like to add more space in other places, take a look at my posts on upsizing clothes and altering armholes. I've also got a post on making necklines smaller.
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Hello! I'm sorry if you've answered something like this already, I tried poking around your links but didn't really find an exact match. I recently bought some bras that I thought were the right size but are slowly squeezing me to death like a boa constrictor. I saw you had a link for expanding bands but it was for bras that have clasps; mine are the seamless kind that you pull over your head. Do you have any tips for inserts or lacing, or just expanding those kinds of bras in general? I've never worked with elastic before so I'm a bit nervous. Thank you in advance!
Expanding seamless bras
Did you mean this type of bra?
(Image source) [ID: a faded red seamless bra with shaped cups.]
Fitting bras and others:
Buying bras can be difficult because they tend to be expensive and often aren't size-inclusive. This may cause situations in which people wear the wrong size, or wear bras in ways that could effect their well-being.
Wearing bras that are too small for you may cause discomfort or even impact your health. The same goes for layering bras: this method is sometimes used to achieve more support or a flatter chest, but a well-fitted sports bra or binder will result in a safer and more comfortable experience.
Here are some guides on how to find a well-fitting cupped bra, sports bra, and a seamless bra, as well as a binder sizing guide and a bra fitting guide for trans women.
If you're on a budget, please remember there's nothing wrong with buying second-hand bras. We tend to shun pre-owned underwear, but as long as everything is still in good condition and we keep basic hygiene measures in mind, it's fine.
Some general considerations:
There are many different techniques to resize a bra. Which one to pick depends on your type of bra and the specific spot you want to resize.
Upsizing or downsizing a clasped bra band is pretty easy. When it comes to seamless bras or sport bras, we need a different approach.
Altering a cup is much harder than altering the width of a bra. If you've got to choose between a bra with a well-fitted cup and a circumference that's too tight or too lose, or a bra with the perfect width but an ill-fitting cup, go for the well-fitted cup.
Seamless bras are generally made of stretchy material. This means we'll have to use stitches that can accommodate stretch. The best stitch to use for this is the zigzag stitch, which can be done both by machine and by hand.
If we're working in a spot where it doesn't really matter if we impact the stretchiness of the garment, you could also use more common sewing stitches like the backstitch.
One way to influence the width of your bra is to add clasps. Measure both the circumference of your bra and the circumference of your chest, then decide how much space you need to add or remove. Find the centre back of your bra and draw a vertical line, then cut it open.
If you want to downsize your bra, cut off the appropriate amount of material and finish your seams, or use the excess material to make a folded hem. Add hook and eyes fasteners (or whichever fastener you prefer), and you're done! If you want to reuse a clasp from an old bra, you'll have to take the width of the clasps into consideration when deciding how much material to remove.
If you want to upsize your bra, you'll have to add width rather than remove it. Reusing clasps from an old bra will automatically add extra width to the circumference of a bra. If this is not an option, find a material that looks nice in combination with your bra's fabric and sew a strip of it on both sides of your cut until you've reached your desired width, then add hook and eye fasteners. Sandwich the raw edges of your cut bra between two layers of your new fabric to save yourself the effort of finishing off those edges. Try to find a strong fabric, as this spot will take a lot of tension when you put on your bra.
Reusing a bra hook from an old bra is also a good way to make your bra size adjustable, as most hooks offer multiple hook placements. This might be useful if your size fluctuates a lot.
If you need to alter the space between your cups, you can also add clasps in the front of your bra.
Melly Sews shows how to add clasps to a seamless bra on her blog.
(Image source) [ID: back view of a white lacy bralette lying on a pink background. White clasps have been added at the centre back of the bra.]
Cage bra back:
Instead of using clasps, take a page out of the cage bra's book and add elastic straps in the back of your bra. You could use both elastic bands or stretchy fabric for this, depending on what look you want to go for. This method will take away some of your bra's back support, but also offers more flexibility when it comes to sizing as the elastic will adjust to your body.
Cut the centre back of your bra and finish off the raw edges like before, but insert horizontal elastic bands rather than clasps.
(Image source) [ID: back view of a sports bra made out of a pink, black, and green fabric. The back has three horizontal straps made out of the same fabric as the rest of the bra.]
Another way to add width to a seamless bra is to insert fabric at strategic places. Which places to choose depends on where you need the extra space.
For example, if the front of your bra is fine but the back isn't wide enough for you, you'll have to insert fabric at the centre back. If the back's fine but you need more space between your cups, then that's where you'll have to sew your insert. If the armholes are too tight, you'll have to alter the sides of the bra.
Measure the circumference of your bra, then measure your own circumference. Calculate how much space you need to add, then divide that number by the amount of inserts you want to make (+ seam allowance). If you only want to make one insert, just use that measurement (+ seam allowance).
Try to find a stretchy fabric that's similar to your bra to optimise the fit of your alterations. You could sacrifice a different piece of underwear for this purpose by cutting up an old sports bra for example, or buy a wide piece of elastic. Stretchy lace (e.g. old panties) would make for really cute inserts, too.
Altering bras can be a useful tool to find something that fits you well when you've bought the wrong size or when you can't find anything in your size.
Clothes should fit you, not the other way around. If you can't find a bra in your size, that's not a personal failure: it means the industry has failed you.
Please note that I have a small cup size. This means I may have overlooked some things while writing this post as I need less support than the average person. If anyone has extra advice to offer in this regard, feel free to add onto this post.
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hi! i've noticed that after washing clothes/accessories i've sewn (out of typical cotton fabric), the inside of the hems starts to fray, leaving long strings that hang down below the hemline. do you know why this is happening/how i can stop it?
It sounds like the problem might be the way you finish your seams.
When we're working with fabric that frays easily (like cotton), it's important to finish off our seams to stop this fraying.
There are many different ways to finish off a seam. Which method to use depends on your fabric and your project. Some fabrics are more fragile than others, while others might not fray at all.
This article by Treasurie showing six common ways to finish a seam might be a good place to start exploring your options. The Spruce Craft also has an article on how to choose which seam finish to use.
(Image source) [ID: six finished hems on an orange fabric with white polkadots: zigzag, French seam, turned over edges, overcast, pinking, bound edges. Text: "6 easy seam finishes with a regular machine. www.treasurie.com". Each seam type is numbered from 1 to 6.]
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Easy tunic tutorial:
If you've always wanted to make your own dress but didn't know where to start, take a look at this easy tunic tutorial by Anna Maria Horner.
The pattern is really simple: it consists of nothing but rectangles. The only measurements you really need are 1) your hip circumference (+some extra wiggle room), and 2) the length you want your dress to be. Thanks to the open cleavage and back, there's plenty of room for your shoulders.
The tutorial suggests adding a piece of elastic to the tunic's waist. If you're not comfortable with sewing elastic, you could also either leave the tunic as is for a baggy look, or add waist ties or a belt to shape the tunic at the waist or hips.
Pick a woven fabric that drapes nicely, and don't forget to add seam allowance when you cut your pattern pieces. Upcycle old bedsheets or a maxi skirt for a zero-waste version of this project.
You could also use this pattern to make a blouse by using shorter rectangles.
(Image source) [ID: an infographic on how to sew a tunic out of four fabric rectangles. Text: "1. cut fabric. 2. sew shoulders. 3. sew centers, front & back, leave neck open. 4. sew sides. 5. zigzag elastic waist. 6. finish edges."]
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Is there a reason that you bold certain parts of your sentences? No judgement, genuinely curious.
I try to bold keywords in my posts to make them easier to read. That way, when someone is scanning a piece of text rather than reading it, they're still able to pick up the most important parts of a post's contents.
It can also be helpful when you have focus issues, as it gives your eyes something to anchor onto when you lose track of what sentence you were reading.
I also bold links so they're easier to recognise within a paragraph.
I realise this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but as I tend to write long posts I figured it might be helpful to some.
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Looks awesome! That's some really clean stitching, and the colour changes are a neat detail.
that post about visible mending reminded me!! i actually tried it once, and i'm really excited to try it again sometime soon but this is an elbow patch i made in august 😂
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My SO has always used the term "clothomancer"
Mending sometimes feels like magic, so that's a pretty cool term for someone who sews!
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